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In the space below, describe your first reactions to The Enchanted Braid: Coming to Terms with Nature on the Coral Reef by Osha Gray Davidson.

Start with the big picture. What sort of feelings does the first chapter leave you with?  From your reading of the first bit, how is this book both similar to and different from a typical text you might read in a science course? Without looking ahead... what do you anticipate of the text to come? Why? How do you think this read might compliment the use of more traditional textbooks, etc? Be text-based in your responses where possible and provide ample detail to back up your claims. Use the general guidelines of the attached rubrics to keep yourself on track...

Tags: #eb2013, 2013, Enchanted Braid, Osha Gray Davidson, discussion, eb2013, reflection, sharedread

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After reading the first page I was reminded of seeing a special on TV  a few months back about Census of Marine Life. As I continued on in the first chapter I noticed that I started making comparisons to a book I had to read for my Intro to Wildlife class this past spring. The book is by Aldo Leopold called A Sand County Almanac. I was instantly drawn to make the conclusion that the reef is Osha Davidson's phenomenon; "I felt completely, if inexplicably, as home, as if I belonged there as much as the fishes or the sea cucumbers or the corals"( Davidson 10). I also related a comparison between this quote:

"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect" Aldo Leopold A Sand County Almanac.­­

And the lastfew pages of the chapter is that we as human do see the world, land and ocean, as a commodity to us. It is only once things begin to get destroyed and we notice the ripple effect of our actions. That as humans we owe it to ourselves and future generations to educate ourselves about the world before destroying it.

"There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”-Aldo Leopold A Sand Country Almanac

"Of course, if we are to save the reefs, we must understand them better. But here we have to come full circle."(Davidson 11).

When we begin educating ourselves about the land and ocean, we must go back to the simplest of things and begin drawing our own conclusions from them.

What I anticipate from the book as I read on is that Davidson will continue to educate us about coral reefs but, from a journalistic point of view. I feel that he will go more in-depth on details of the coral reef but, also the way humans are impacting them. I believe that books like this compliment textbooks well, as they allow you to be more open with your inferences and not just straight forward like a textbook does. In my Intro to Wildlife class we had to read passages from A Sand County Almanac, and then write about the passage and what it meant to us. We also had class discussions about the passages which allowed us to see how different individuals interpreted a journalistic text differently.


I love it that you made the connection to Aldo Leopold. That's a first time in reading this book with this class...  and likely due to you being at Western now as opposed to high school. Very cool. Erin & I have long been into Sand County Almanac. This particular quote is one that is dear to my heart as a biology teacher of my generation. Perhaps also due to the fact that I taught Botany for many years, and it was my first field of study in undergraduate:

"There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”-Aldo Leopold, A Sand Country Almanac

Four years ago I did a post on what is essentially this very topic called Where are the Seeds in an Orange? Give it a skim. I think you'll see the parallels.  Nice work.

Compared to typical text books, The Enchanted Braid captures my attention much more. I anticipate what is to come furth into the book; it starts out sounding more like a story, an educational experience. I can sense the narrators excitement of the subject; the coral reef, and I want to know and learn as much as I can about it. On the other hand, reading a typical textbook bores me. I feel like there are more FACTS FACTS FACTS in a typical textbook, without taking the time to slow it down and ignite my senses or emotions. The Author connects factual information to readers' senses and emotions and I feel like it will be much easier to retain the information presented.

Upon reading the first chapter of this book, I really did not know much about the ocean's coral reefs. I knew that they were probably big, under the wide ocean, and full of fish and plants and colors. On page 4, I learn that "of the thirty-three animal phyla...thirty-two are found in the sea". So already I know that the ocean is not only big, but it's HUGE. Only eleven phyla are on land. There is a world under there, so great that it would take hundreds of years to decode. "Coral reefs represent less than two-tenths of 1 percent of the area of the global ocean, approximately one - third of all marine fish species are found in this tiny zone...home to approximately one-quarter of all marine species", that seems to say it all. I imagine a map laying over the top of it, with street names and neighborhoods and freeways. I hope that in further chapters, I will learn more about the colonies and fish civilizations.

One quote that really captured my attention was on page 8, first paragraph, "The reef is like a factory, with day and nigh shifts, separated by a thirty-minute 'quiet period' when few of either shift are seen"....that is so cool. I want to experience the same time of day/night as the fish in our oceans do. Also, on page 10 where the author talks about how he felt completely at home on the reef, is interesting because that is neat that fish present a kind of "loving" appeal. I love love.

Glad you're into it. I love sharing good literature. 

Less than two tenths of one percent...  and approximately 33% of all fish species in the sea? Boy, what does that say about the density (diversity really) of life there? It really is quite mind boggling when you come from a terrestrial ecosystem in the middle of a Northern continent like we do.

I completely agree about your assertion here: "The Author connects factual information to readers' senses and emotions and I feel like it will be much easier to retain the information presented." Mostly because of my 20 years of experience helping students learn about biology, but also because there is an emerging body of data to be found that illustrates this very thing.


This is my favorite quote of your entire response: "I imagine a map laying over the top of it, with street names and neighborhoods and freeways." Stick with that idea. If you can already visualize something like that...  I'm betting you could create something like that during the course of the year...  and that would be more than awesome.

If 33% of out fish are from the ocean how did they get there? where they always there or did they just swim up our rivers? I always wondered that.

It was hard for me to stop reading after just the first chapter because I love to read and this book immediately caught my interest since it started out much like an adventure starts. The authors story at the beginning really started to open my eyes about the vast amount of information contained in the reefs and knowing that I have an opportunity to study them for a year has made me incredibly excited to dive into all of this information.

One thing that the author said that stuck with me was "If we were not so terrestrial in our thinking, we might do better to call rain forests 'the coral reefs of the land.'" This statement really made me think, and I realized that I never really thought of coral reefs as I think of rain forests. When I think "rain forest" I think of tons of trees and insane animals and bugs and all sorts of other crazy things, but when I think "coral reef" it's always been images from things I've seen at aquariums or on Finding Nemo. Now, however, I'm going to start thinking of coral reefsas so much more than that. When I read the quote by Alfred Russel Wallace further down on page 6, where he describes the reef as continuous, magnificent, varied, brilliant, striking, and "no description can do justice to its surpassing beauty and interest" my imagination went crazy and I got an even greater respect for the coral reefs.

What this chapter mostly did for me was completely change my perspective of the sea and increase my excitement to learn more about such a wondrous subject. I also feel like this book will be quite enjoyable as well as incredibly informational. I'm so ready to engulf myself in this book and in the subject of the coral reefs.
This chapter also changed my views of the oceans, and I want to learn more now as well. I agree with you that the coral reefs are like the rain Forrest's. They remind me of each other. Gooooood job

Ahhhhhhh, Nemo. This: "...when I think "coral reef" it's always been images from things I've seen at aquariums or on Finding Nemo," is a really interesting thing isn't it? It reminds me a bit of the Aldo Leopold discussion above about how children today and increasingly "detached" from nature. However, this isn't perfectly true in this case, because most folks who live so far from the sea have little hands-on experience with it. You can't really expect Missouri kids to be "reef savvy" by your age. But you DO have some schema for coral reefs coming in. For countless people, that background knowledge consists mostly of scenes from Nemo. If only "Planet Earth, and the like, could play at big theaters. Wait...  if people would attend such showings, they probably would play in such theaters.


Sounds like you were generating lots of visuals of reefs in your mind from that reading. Do you think you could find an image that most illustrates what is in your mind right now? Do a search and scan a hundred or so...  help us see what you are seeing.

My imagination went crazy when reading his descriptions of the coral reefs, as well. The first thing that I thought of was wow, what exactly is this man seeing? His passion makes me passionate. His seeming ubundance of knowledge of the coral reefs makes me want to dive right in and learn as much as I can, so I can teach others of something that they do not know of and perhaps do not care to know.

I also found it interesting when the author says, "if we were not so terrestrial in our thinking, we might do better to call rain forests the 'coral reefs of the land'". After reading that I had to stop and think just how magnificent the coral reefs MUST be. Even if I knew nothing at all about the reefs, which I know very little as it is, that sentence tells me that it truly is great. I know that the rain forest is of great importance and I appreciate all the trees of the earth simply for the reason that they keep us alive. So being told that we should rather call the forests the coral reefs of land.....what are we missing? LOADS OF INFORMATION. Information that I, for one, have never really took into consideration, and now we get to study it first hand. How exciting. :)
I know what you mean. This chapter changed my views about the ocean completely. When you talked about the rain forest I completely understand. When I picture the rain forest I see trees and endangered animals and us cutting down all the trees. But when I pictured the reefs all I could see is fish nd things I saw in aquariums. But I never expected so much bueaty to be in the coral reefs and I am still trying to picture the descriptions in that chapter.
I LOVED when he mentioned how rain forests are the coral reefs of the land. It really makes you picture how much life really is in there!
Before I say anything else, I have just one word to say: wow. Words can not describe the feelings of awe that I experienced from the descriptions of the coral reef in this first chapter. This book is unlike most science course books in the way that it grabs your attention from the start, playing into your emotions and eliciting a response from somewhere deep down inside of you. It's told like an adventure tale of sorts-one that is hard to put down. It does state facts like a typical textbook, but does it in a interesting manner. For example, on page 5, the complexity of a coral reef is explained.

"One a single coral reef surrrounding one tiny Australian island, there are one thousand known species of fishes. Zoom in closer: a scientist has counted 620 species of shrimp living on corals. Get even closer; go inside the coral: there, searching through a labyrinth of passageways within a single colony, an investigator found 103 separate species of a single kind of worm."

Nothing but straight-up facts with a little bit of flair is stated above, but they're facts essential to our understanding of The Enchanted Braid. The passion for coral reefs is apparent in every paragraph, which leads me to expect nothing but a growth in that as we dive deeper into the book. I can also tell that this book will have a journalistic view to it, as can be seen on page 6.

"Life on the reef is so rich and varied that even the most fastidious scientists write with poetic abandon when describing this environment. In his 1930 lecture ' Coral Reefs and Atolls,' delivered at Boston's Lowell Institute, the Cambridge University biologist J. Stanley Gardiner opened his description of coral reefs by extolling 'the beauty of their immense wreaths of green floating upon the sea, brilliant ultramarine in the hot sun, the whole dappled with the cloud shadows.' "

The quote that really excited me was that of Alfred Russel Wallace, of which he looked into the water and saw "one of the most astonishing and beautiful sights I have ever beheld." That quote alone has made me über excited to finish this book and then experience it for my own in the Bahamas. Not only will I absorb the information in this book with an incredible appetite, I will also be excited to share my newfound knowledge with the world. So in other words, this book is going to make my life!








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